Friday, December 29, 2017

Trump, the U.S. President, Lies Nearly Once a Minute in Rare, Taped Interview

Oddly, the title of this post is neither hyperbole nor misleading, as Trump supporters relish it while Trump detractors' heads don't even explode. Trump's unreality is our reality.

On Monday, Trump said he was heading back to work. By Friday, he hadn't,
playing an additional four days of golf. At one point, he opened his mouth
for an interview. What came out wasn't pretty, or true, but hey, he's Trump.

I suppose musing on the truthiness of Donald Trump is a losing game, stuck between amusement and disgust. So we leave it to Glenn Kessler's Fact Checker.
President Trump gave an impromptu half-hour interview with the New York Times on Dec. 28. We combed through the transcript and here’s a quick roundup of the false, misleading or dubious claims that he made, at a rate of one every 75 seconds. (Some of the interview was off the record, so it’s possible the rate of false claims per minute is higher.)
Imagine that. Kessler's assumption is that the off-the-record part contained more lies. What ever gave him that impression?

I remind everyone he's our president, much as most Americans wish that fact would just go away, like that first DUI.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Alt-Right, Please Please Please Invest in Bitcoin (Did I Say Please?)

Okay, someone invented a secure code for an alternative currency. That's like saying "I'm not investing in gold ever ever again, I'm investing in platinum, I'm so brilliant. Except, hmm, it's not a thing, it's, hmm, code. But I'm brilliant!" Er, do it do it do it.

Above: fascist, white nationalist motherfucker. His name? Who cares? Buy bitcoin!

Yes, you guessed it. I think -- have thunk a while now -- that bitcoin is the tulip du jour. Now read of the fascists' erstwhile dream:
After Charlottesville’s bloody Unite the Right rally in August, technology companies tightened rules against hate speech and banned many extremists from using Web hosting services, social media platforms and online payment systems.
But some on the farthest edges of the political spectrum soon found an effective tool for thwarting this industry crackdown: bitcoin.
I've been into technology for over forty years and think of innovation as powering the future. (Well, who doesn't?). But I wouldn't buy bitcoin if it was called, er, I don't know, Apple?

Please, fascists, explore the alternative universe of alternative currency. PLEASE. Then go blow yer bubbles.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Trump's Ridiculous Mar-A-Lago Christmas Tell: "You All Just Got a Lot Richer."

Since Donald Trump cannot keep his mouth shut, it only took days -- and the feeling that he couldn't be heard among his rich brethren at his resort -- for him to admit his tax cut was for his multimillionaire class.

This guy would be at 5% in the polls if his base was in touch with reality.

 Say it with me: Fucker.
President Trump was in a celebratory mood on Friday night and told a group of his wealthy friends, “You all just got a lot richer” after he signed the tax cuts into law. Trump reportedly uttered the words to a group of friends who were having dinner nearby at Mar-a-Lago, including two friends who spoke to CBS News about the remark.

Trump’s words to his rich pals mark a stark contrast to what he has been saying for weeks now as he has insisted that the massive tax cut would benefit the middle class above all. “The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan. We are looking for the middle class and we are looking for jobs — jobs being the economy,” Trump had said in September, for example. In November, the president had gone as far as to say that the tax cuts would actually hurt the rich. “This is not good for me. Me, it’s not so — I have some very wealthy friends. Not so happy with me, but that’s OK,” Trump told a Missouri crowd. “You know, I keep hearing Schumer: ‘This is for the wealthy.’ Well, if it is, my friends don’t know about it.”
Now, I guess, his friends know about it, and so does the world, except, perhaps his base, each member of which is something that rhymes with fucker.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Two Views of the News

The "mainstream media" does the best job it can. Whether it succeeds -- or even does the best job it can -- is an open question. But contrasting Trump's fucked-up view with a more enlightened one from my favorite blogger, Atrios, shows the limits and foibles of the press, regardless of your politics.

Atrios, aka Duncan Black, promotes his words, not his photo. Hence just the Donald.

Here, then, are the contrasting views, one a tweet, one a blog post:

Typically grotesque. I would add that Trump's approval numbers. Are. Sad!

Now Atrios:

Both Sides

The myth of the last several decades is that bothsides wanted similar outcomes, but they just disagreed about the way to get there. Evil socialist communist liberals thought that big government was the answer, and hot sexy randian conservatives thought the private sector was the answer, but but both, ultimately, thought that the welfare of all human beings was important.

This was bullshit. The goals were not the same (I'll leave aside the issue of how much elite goals of both parties were, actually, the same). But it was the myth the press propped up for decades. Should federal money go to welfare queens, or to heroic capitalists in Jack Kemp's empowerment zones? The question was ridiculously framed as, "which would be better for the poor?" Instead of, "who should receive the welfare." That rich people should get all the welfare won. Heckuva job, opinion shapers.
Sounds about right.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

How Many Ways Can Trump Cause Havoc? How About Foreign Policy?

Our allies are confused, even revolted, by America under Trump "foreign policy," which for him is self-congratulation offered as "principled realism." What's that? Who knows. Trump sure doesn't.

Trump's national security speech didn't align with the National Security
Statement released earlier in the day. What, we expected it to?

Coherence is welcome when it comes to foreign policy. If a leader or a diplomat says something, it's helpful if actions resemble those words. Can't expect that from Trump.
The [National Security Statement] also goes on at great length about the need for expanded diplomacy. “Across the competitive landscape,” it reads, “America’s diplomats are our forward-deployed political capability, advancing and defending America’s interests abroad … Diplomacy is indispensable … We must upgrade our diplomatic capabilities.”
And yet, Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have gutted the diplomatic corps, offered buyouts to seasoned negotiators, left vacant nearly every second- and third-tier policy position in the State Department, and failed even to appoint new ambassadors in the most troubled regions (after firing all the existing ambassadors in the first week on the job).
So much for diplomacy. What about dealing with adversaries?
 The NSS named both China and Russia as countries that "are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence." But Trump, in his speech, was conspicuously silent on Russian interference in the U.S. election, and he praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for thanking him over the weekend after Russia successfully foiled a terrorist attack using intelligence provided by the CIA.
 The NSS harps on "American values" — a theme dear to Trump, who champions a much different vision of American identity and culture than his predecessors. "There can be no moral equivalency between nations that uphold the rule of law, empower women, and respect individual rights and those that brutalize and suppress their people," declared the NSS. "Through our words and deeds, America demonstrates a positive alternative to political and religious despotism."
Of course, much of Trump's politicking in 2017 has seen the White House cozy up to political despots and tone down the nation's traditional messaging on democracy and human rights.
Trump's foreign policy team attempts to offer a coherent message. In his speech, he then turns it upside down:
By contrast, Trump’s speech—like many of his other speeches—focuses almost entirely on “America First” and the need to treat other nations as sovereign entities in transactional arrangements. He has abandoned the TPP and the Paris climate agreement. Just this month, he repeated his long-standing disparagement of the NATO allies, suggesting that he would not come to their defense if they hadn’t paid what he regards as their fair share of expenses. During his speech on Monday, he displayed an odd misunderstanding of NATO’s very nature. “We have made clear,” he said, “that countries that are immensely wealthy should reimburse the United States for the cost of defending them.” He seems to think (and it’s worth noting that he was reading a teleprompter, not extemporaneously) that the NATO allies pay us for their defense—as if the alliance is a protection racket and Trump is the don—when, in fact, each member-state builds its own military force and arranges to coordinate its logistics with the other members.
Why does he flip the message?
 The confusion may be understandable in one sense: On Monday evening, a White House official admitted that it was unlikely Trump had read the entirety of the 70-page strategy document.
Good to know. Don't bother to scratch your head. Our allies are doing it for you. Our adversaries? Ordering more beer and popcorn.

(Note. For a complete view, read both the Slate and Washington Post commentary I used in this Post.)

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Tax Bill Might End Trump's "Populist Street Cred." Ya Think?

Turns out the last version of the bill is a giveaway -- as if it wasn't before -- to real-estate developers and limited partnerships, which is how a key vote, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, was bought and paid for.

We're going to see quite a few of these "this tax bill really sucks for the poor and middle class" articles before the bought-and-paid-for senators pass it.
Bloomberg News reported this morning that the conference committee added a complicated provision late in the process that will provide a multimillion-dollar windfall to real estate investors such as Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner: “The change, which would allow real estate businesses to take advantage of a new tax break that’s planned for partnerships, limited liability companies and other so-called ‘pass-through’ businesses, combined elements of House and Senate legislation in a new way. … James Repetti, a tax law professor at Boston College Law School, said: ‘This is a windfall for real estate developers like Trump.’
“The revision might also bring tax benefits to several members of Congress, according to financial disclosures they’ve filed that reflect ownership of pass-through firms with real estate holdings,” per Lynnley Browning and Benjamin Bain. “One such lawmaker, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who’d voted against an earlier version of the legislation, said on Friday that he would support the revised legislation. Corker said in an interview on Saturday that his change of heart had nothing to do with the added benefit for real estate investors.
So now we know why "deficit hawk" Bob Corker changed to "yes" out of the blue. Susan Collins of Maine has agreed to vote yes in exchange for protections for Obamacare subsidies that the House has already telegraphed "no fucking way," and Jeff Flake of Arizona had held out for Dreamer protections that they've promised him to get his vote, even though he'll run into the same "fuck you, please" Susan Collins will get.

And brave, maverick John McCain because he's dying gets to head back to Arizona ahead of the vote, so he's off the hook. He'll be accorded "not my fault" status even as the Senate is avoiding "regular order" -- the civilized process of examining and crafting bills -- that he railed about during the earlier Obamacare repeal votes that failed in the end because of his startling "no" vote. Sorry, McCain, but your cancer doesn't cancel out you role in this debacle. Besides, you'd already said you'd vote for it, so destiny meet legacy. McCain's last stand was to skip out. I'll remember it even if others want to say "he's dying, let him off the hook." I say he's dying, and this is how he goes out. Sorry.

So tax cuts for the rich and bad times in store for the poor and middle class are headed our way thanks to A COMPLETE SELLOUT TO THE RICH IN EXCHANGE FOR DONATIONS IN THE 2018 ELECTION CYCLE.

This is how we lose our democracy to plutocracy, in case you haven't thought of that. By the way, the chart above shows that American voters already have mostly figured this out. Do Republicans hope they get enough money from the donors to mitigate the effects of the disaster they've perpetrated on the citizenry? Yes, I guess they do. Fuckers.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Charge that Mueller Illegally Obtained Transition Team Emails Is Nonsense

What's more, the lawyer leading the charge against Mueller knew this was bullshit before he made the claim. Was he employing Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts?" Could be...

Who's turn is it in the barrel? That question haunts Trump, no doubt.

Kory Langhofer, a lawyer for Trump for America attempting to do damage control, has claimed that emails, laptops, and cell phones provided to the Trump transition team by the GSA have been illegally provided to the Mueller investigation.

The trouble with this argument is that it's horseshit, and Langhofer surely must know it:
In the seven-page letter, which was sent to congressional committee leaders on Saturday, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, Kory Langhofer, wrote, "We understand that the Special Counsel’s Office has subsequently made extensive use of the materials it obtained from the GSA, including materials that are susceptible to privilege claims."
According to the letter, the Mueller investigation requested, in a pair of August letters, "the emails, laptops, cell phones, and other materials" for nine transition team members working on "national security and policy matters" and four other "senior" transition team members.
Langhofer argues in the letter that decision by GSA officials went against what he calls "the GSA's previous acknowledgement concerning" the Trump campaign's "rightful ownership and control of" transition team materials.
Okay. On its face, the claims seem sensible, so what gives? The problem arises because the claims are all nonsense:
Specifically, [GSA Deputy Counsel Lenny] Loewentritt said, "in using our devices," transition team members were informed that materials "would not be held back in any law enforcement" actions.
Loewentritt read to BuzzFeed News a series of agreements that anyone had to agree to when using GSA materials during the transition, including that there could be monitoring and auditing of devices and that, "Therefore, no expectation of privacy can be assumed."
Case closed. Alternative facts not in evidence. Better luck next time.

Note. Do realize that this kind of nonsense fits a pattern, one of making false claim after false claim to bolster a narrative that Mueller's investigation is a witch hunt, Fake News, "proves there's no collusion", Democratic sour grapes, illegal, partisan, part of the Deep State, the-system-is-rigged, etc., etc. It's very lawyerly and it's part of Trump's overall Big Lie strategy, to render Mueller's conclusion suspect and/or irrelevant. The one reason that may not be enough to save Trump is that Mueller can indict using grand juries. He doesn't need the DOJ or anybody. So, what happens when Mueller's indictments reach closer to home? Oh boy.

Robert Mueller Is a Republican and a Decorated Vietnam Vet. It's Not Easy to Trash Him.

Congressional Republicans have done their best in recent hearings to build a case that Robert Mueller's Special Counsel team is bad news. The trouble is he's a Boy Scout who's bad news for Trump.

The political Republicans are attacking the apolitical Republicans. Jeez, this is totally going to work out. Actually, there's a reason why it might:

So there it is, classic epistemic closure. The GOP believes what it needs to believe to survive. The Trump/what's-left-of-the-Republican base doesn't need to hear the truth. It's got Fox News for that.

Attacking Robert Mueller, a Bad, Bad Republican (How Dare He Be Apolitical?)

For weeks now, the anti-Mueller campaign has been growing. There's no there there, but Trump's minions will to anything to discredit him. Is an attempt to fire him is store?

They hired Robert Mueller because his reputation is impeccable. So how do
they go about destroying him? Not hard for the truth-challenged Trump GOP.

Problem: Robert Mueller has obtained thousands of emails sent by the Trump transition team, almost certainly legally. Solution: Claim, wrongly, that he obtained them illegally. Trump team for the win!

Others, like experienced prosecutors, disagree.

Hard to tell how this ends up, but I've got a feeling that the Trump legal team has made a mash of everything so far, so it's unlikely this will do much beyond adding to the drumbeat, which grew louder in Washington these past two weeks. The GOP attack machine is just only getting revved up.


Life in the Time of Trump: E.P.A. Hires Firm to Root Out Anti-Trump Employees

Scott Pruitt has hired a Republican opposition research company -- ordinarily used for political campaign purposes -- to find employees that disagree with the Trump agenda, all on the government's dime.

E.P.A. head Scott Pruitt is not paranoid. To prove it, he had a sound-proof,
secure phone booth, costing more than $25k, built in his office, even
though his agency already has one he can use nearby.

This is not how our government is supposed to do business:
One of the top executives of a consulting firm that the Environmental Protection Agency has recently hired to help it with media affairs has spent the past year investigating agency employees who have been critical of the Trump administration, federal records show.

The firm, Definers Public Affairs, based in Virginia, specializes in conducting opposition research, meaning that it seeks to find damaging information on political or corporate rivals.

A vice president for the firm, Allan Blutstein, federal records show, has submitted at least 40 Freedom of Information Act requests to the E.P.A. since President Trump was sworn in. Many of those requests target employees known to be questioning management at the E.P.A. since Scott Pruitt, the agency’s administrator, was confirmed.
The contract, which was awarded this month, is part of an unconventional news media operation that Mr. Pruitt has set up at the agency as he tries to get a handle on the coverage of him by newspapers, including The New York Times, and criticism by Democrats in Congress and environmental groups. The decision to award the contract was first reported by Mother Jones.

The founders of Definers, Joe Pounder and Matt Rhoades, are longtime Republican political operatives. Mr. Pounder was the research director for the Republican National Committee and worked on the presidential campaign of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida in 2016. Mr. Rhoades managed Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012.
Okay. Scott Pruitt is using taxpayers' money to hire a Republican firm to rid a government agency of employees in non-political positions if they have political beliefs that run counter to his -- mostly anti-environmental -- agenda. Good to know.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Senate Tax "Reform" Gives Breaks for Private Jets for Corporations and the Rich

Yes, a tax cut to help you manage the costs of your private jet. Gimme an f'ing break.

Yes, read this so you know this is real. The Republicans have gone off the deep end.

But, hey, this isn't just for the rich. The poor can take advantage of the tax break, too!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

GOP Finally Has the Math! Permanent Tax Cuts for the Rich and Corporations, Tax Hikes for the Middle Class (Bonus! Dump 15 Million's Healthcare)

To make the big ticket items in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent (and affordable to the budget), most of the individual (and paltry) cuts for the middle class expire within the ten-year window. What horrifying gall.

By phasing out what helps the poor, working, and middle classes within the ten-year window in order to pass the bill under reconciliation rules that allow a simple (Republican) majority, it allows the bill to make permanent the large tax cuts for the rich. The graph above tells it all. What a travesty.

For words to tell the story, read this, this, and this.

And check out this tweet and its thread:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Why Do Republicans Tolerate Roy Moore? Because They're the Party of Male Dominance

Political journalism has long languished in bothsidesism. It's not ever been true, and it's less true today than ever before. Why? Because each side is not at all like the other.

Can Alabamans hold their noses and vote for this man? Absolutely, and they will.

Not only does Roy Moore have a better than even chance of winning a Senate seat in the December special election, but he also has that chance because he actually represents the political and cultural views of the Republican Party.

The reason should be obvious by now. The Republicans represent an essentially white, male-dominated population, while the big-tent Democrats, by definition, must be inclusive. It's not surprising that blacks -- and women -- vote Democratic. Nor is it surprising that a male-dominated party would excuse sexual misconduct anymore that it should be surprising that a more diverse party should better represent the cause of racial equality. It's in the fundamental DNA of each.

As an exercise, consider this: Do you think that American society, so in thrall to the NRA, thinks that blacks should be as heavily armed as whites? To help you decide, picture what would happen if a cadre of black men clad in military-style clothing toting military-style assault rifles with a dozen high-capacity clips in their vests strode through the streets or parks of your town. Now picture a similar tableau featuring whites. Would the police handle each situation differently? As a clue, consider one such armed black man or one such white man. Who has the better chance at survival and why?

Case closed.

Now consider how Republicans reacted to the news that Donald Trump thought "grab them by the pussy" was an allowed tactic of seduction, or that a dozen or more women accused him of essentially doing just that. Reaction? Absolute abhorrence followed by fuck it, vote for him anyway.

Roy Moore may yet win his Senate seat, but at what cost? The cost will be cementing the Republican Party as the "grab them by the pussy" party. How do the Republican Party feel about that? Fine, as long as they can get their tax cuts for the rich, who will then continue to donate to them.

A few women here or there damaged and with their lives forever changed as long as tax cuts keep them in power? The GOP can live with that.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

How (and Why) Faux News Keeps the Deplorables Misinformed on Sexual Misconduct and Stuff

There are two distinct sets of opinions: one belonging to those who know that Fox News is a propaganda arm of the Republican Party and another belonging to those at whom the propaganda is aimed.

Breaking News: Woman (a paid analyst) goes on Fox News to
misinform and distort in order to protect the rich and powerful,
who are predominantly men. (Wait. That's not news...)

A twist in the long and winding road that is Trump's first year in office has been the outing of rich and powerful men as sexual predators, highlighted by the news that many of their predations were (ugh) gross, disgusting, and frankly embarrassing to hear about. Coincidentally, Trump is one such predator, but, hey, he's exempt because with him IT'S ONLY LOCKER ROOM TALK.

Now that Roy Moore, darling of the evangelical gawd's-law set, has been named as a particularly odious form of the breed, Sean Hannity and his gang have ganged up to defend their tribe. The appearance of Mercedes Colwin made this whole affair all the more dismal with her claim that most women are liars.  
Colwin: Undoubtedly. I mean, there are individuals who will come forward with these outrageous allegations, and they fall… 

Hannity: And that hurts women who are victims. 

Colwin: Yes. I used to work in sex crimes in the DA’s office. It was very pitiful to see that. Because some jurors don’t believe it because they have, in their own lives, there are people who have made these accusations for money. You see this time and time and time again. And sexual harassment, that term is coined everywhere, frankly, the laws are very clear about what it takes to have some sort of violation of the law. You have to have some sort of damage. And these individuals, a lot of these women, it’s all about money, and they bank on the fact that these corporations have the reputation that they want to save. 
Hannity: And the hard—this is where you thread the needle, because there are women who are victims of predators. 

Colwin: Yes, there are. There are. But very few and far between. 
The vast number of women who claim sexual harassment and abuse are liars. Good to know, especially if your tribe is the Republican Party that needs to pass a tax cut to keep the big-money donors happy and can't afford to lose a Senate seat in Alabama, especially if they can't pass the tax-cut bill before a Democratic win there makes it even harder to pass the bill.

Okay, I get how this works now.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Wilbur Ross: Just Another Trumpster Who Can't Tell the Truth (about the Russians)

What made them think they could get away with their secret ties to Russia? Was it, maybe, the thought that the Republicans would let them get away with it? Are they actually right? Time will tell.

If you're stinkin' rich, you think you can get away with anything. Wilbur thinks so.

It turns out (surprise!) that Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross is thick as thieves with Putin's gang. That's bad enough in and of itself, but the man thought he didn't have to tell Congress, even after they specifically asked about it. Now it comes out:
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross failed to disclose shared business interests with Russian President Vladimir Putin's family, according to documents obtained by several news organizations. 
The documents show that Ross still has interest in Navigator Holdings, which was partially owned by his investment company. Putin's son-in-law, as well as other members of the president's inner circle, control a Russian energy firm that has a relationship with Navigator.
[...]  Ross previously vowed to cut ties with more 80 financial entities that he has interests in, a move that won him praise from Republicans and Democrats.
Great. He says one thing, does another, and hides another. It turns out he's not alone.
The president's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn has held leading roles in 22 separate entities for Goldman Sachs in Bermuda between 2002 and 2006, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also directed a company in Bermuda in 1997, according to The Guardian. 
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman and House and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson are also mentioned in the leaked documents, according to The Guardian.
Okay, let's get this straight: One of the most "patriotic" presidents of the modern era who claimed he was going to drain the swamp has actually widened it and polluted it more, as well as populating it with all creatures great and greedy. They also have a taste for parking their American money anywhere but where they'd be taxed and actually have to chip in to pay for the great country they, er, serve.

Jennifer Rubin is not amused and points out what would, in less corrupt times, be the immediate impact of such a reveal. We'll see.

Friday, November 3, 2017

If Repubs Believed in Their Tax Bill, They Wouldn't Hide What's in It

What's been released so far about the GOP tax cut bill is only a discussion draft, with the real House bill set for release next week. What they haven't released are the details that show it to be a looting of the middle class on behalf of the rich business elites.

The tax bill should be called the Trump Family Tax Holiday Act.

Brian Beutler at his new site has a piece that's illuminating about the nature of the timing -- and subsequent discussion about -- of the Republican tax plan. If they were rightfully proud of it as good policy, they'd be out bragging about it.
Republicans know what they want their tax policy to do, it turns out, but they also know that they can’t disclose their intentions to voters, because voers will not like what they see. The plan is to increase taxes on millions of working people to finance permanent corporate tax cuts, and the eventual repeal of the estate tax for people like Ivanka Trump. And to shepherd it into law, they are reviving the same Secret-Bill Strategy they adopted unsuccessfully when they attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
What shocks me is that they are repeating all the missteps that they took in attempting to repeal the ACA: write a bad bill, hide its true details, lie about them when they come out, ignore the bad public polling, continue to negotiate in secret, and then try to rush the bill through on a party-line vote before the CBO can properly score it or either side, frankly, can get comfortable with what the bills actually mean. Result? The bills flopped.

Will this one suffer the same fate? So far, it looks that way.

If it does, it will be because it deserves to die:
This is a hastily compiled bill — lacking the thoughtfulness of the Reagan tax reform, for example — and its main purpose is to benefit the wealthy. It would harm many middle-class and low-income families in the short term and the vast majority of families in the long term. Don’t be fooled by anyone who emphasizes the bill’s modest middle-class benefits in its early years. (I explained the bait-and-switch in my column last week.)

The next few weeks will be important. Republican leaders have signaled that they will try to rush through a bill. They know it is already unpopular — as many polls, including a new one this morning from ABC and The Washington Post, show — and it’s likely to become more unpopular as it receives more attention.
You don't need me to find out all the opposition to this stinker. Sift through the usual news and opinion sites to discover the widespread disfavor.

So why are the Republicans even trying this? It seems likely because they can't help but return to their holy-grail-type quest, along with the dread that fills them that the donor class will abandon them ahead of the 2018 elections if they don't feed the moneyed beast.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Republicans Force Tax Cuts (for the Rich) Just Because (Their Donors Want Them)

Hey, GOP, no one else does.

Two stooges. Where's Mitch?

The only people who think tax cuts are a good idea are Republican congressional leaders:
Meanwhile, virtually every credible bit of public polling suggests that, if anything, ordinary American think that taxes on big business should be higher, not lower. In September, the Pew Research Center found that 52 percent of Americans thought that corporate taxes should go up; just 24 thought they should go down. In April, 67 percent of adults told Gallup that corporations paid “too little” in taxes. This week, CBS News found that 56 percent of its survey-takers favored a corporate tax hike, while only 17 percent backed a cut.
Even among the GOP’s base, corporate tax cuts simply aren’t that popular. Pew found that just 48 percent of conservatives who either identify as Republican or lean towards the party think that corporate taxes should come down; 49 percent thought they should go up or stay the same. Among all Republicans and leaners, including moderates, just 41 favored lowering the corporate tax burden.
Weird that the GOPers don't figure this out. "Must have tax cuts!" "Nobody wants them." "But must have tax cuts!"

They can't figure out how to pay for tax cuts no one wants, or needs.
Earlier Wednesday, tensions were running “very high,” said a source familiar with the eleventh-hour talks. Figuring out how to pay for final changes to accommodate Republican holdouts was just one of several issues that bedeviled Ways and Means members. It was not immediately apparent how they bridged that difference, though making the corporate tax cut temporary could be one of the strategies.
That wasn’t the only problem Republican leaders confronted. Republican tax writers could be heard speaking in raised voices Tuesday night during a more than two-hour meeting at the Capitol. Sources say there was some unhappiness among rank-and-file members who feel the plan has been written largely by party leaders without their input.
“Members on the committee feel their views are not being listened to,” the source familiar with the eleventh-hour talks said.
Oh, that secrecy shit. How'd that work our with repealing Obamacare? Meanwhile, observers begin to note that it's completely stupid, even suicidal to press on to gain their ONE FREAKING ACCOMPLISHMENT TO PLACATE THEIR BASE (you know, those people who aren't going to get anything from the tax cuts. Oh well.)
Look at this mess. Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, who is perhaps the worst legislative politician since the Five Minutes of Bob Livingston passed into history, desperately needs this win. Passage of this tax bill is the only reason he’s put up with the antics out of Camp Runamuck at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. But, unfortunately, those pesky 2018 midterms have put the gallows in everyone’s eyes, especially Ryan’s.
He has salivated for most of his career simply to do away with the estate tax, but he knows that’s also political poison, and that it would help balloon the deficit, which is something he’s supposed to care about, so he’s suggesting they phase it out, in the hopes that nobody will notice that the whole purpose of the thing is to give people like the president* and Paul Ryan the ability to make sure their grandchildren don’t have to work a day in their lives. Tampering with the state and local tax deductions will kill Republicans in high-tax states, where the party’s weak anyway. Capping the deduction for 401(k) contributions is another easy way to turn the middle-class into a ravening horde of angry beasts, and Ryan knows that, too. This would be a tough needle to thread even if Ryan were Sam Rayburn and, as a legislative leader, he’s proven to be closer to Gene Rayburn.
Paul Ryan has never been good at this thing, as Paul Krugman has gleefully pointed out (okay, maybe grimly pointed out) more than seven years ago.
Mr. Ryan has become the Republican Party’s poster child for new ideas thanks to his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a plan for a major overhaul of federal spending and taxes. News media coverage has been overwhelmingly favorable; on Monday, The Washington Post put a glowing profile of Mr. Ryan on its front page, portraying him as the G.O.P.’s fiscal conscience. He’s often described with phrases like “intellectually audacious.”

But it’s the audacity of dopes. Mr. Ryan isn’t offering fresh food for thought; he’s serving up leftovers from the 1990s, drenched in flimflam sauce.

Mr. Ryan’s plan calls for steep cuts in both spending and taxes. He’d have you believe that the combined effect would be much lower budget deficits, and, according to that Washington Post report, he speaks about deficits “in apocalyptic terms.” And The Post also tells us that his plan would, indeed, sharply reduce the flow of red ink: “The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan would cut the budget deficit in half by 2020.”

But the budget office has done no such thing. At Mr. Ryan’s request, it produced an estimate of the budget effects of his proposed spending cuts — period. It didn’t address the revenue losses from his tax cuts.
That was then, this is now, and the flimflam doesn't work any better. Ryan's Republicans are trying this time to cut taxes by $5.5 trillion and look for $4 trillion in cut deductions to pay for them. That leaves at least $1.5 trillion in deficits, but for them that's okay (it's wrapped in their budget language, allowing them to do it without shame but most especially without anything but 50 senators plus the yes-voting-bot Mike Pence to break a tie).

This is crap, this is chaos, no one wants it, and it's suicidal for 2018, even though that's ostensibly what they're doing it for. But hey, MENTAL GIANTS 2018!!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

John Kelly Calls Robert E. Lee -- a Known Slave Torturer -- An Honorable Man

The big thing about the military and military service is honor, right? So what does it mean that a four-star general should so dishonor his service by his support for Robert E. Lee? (Pretty obvious answer: He thinks he's not dishonoring himself.)

From bad to worse: Get in Trump's orbit, you get trashed, and get revealed.

Who better to school John Kelly than Ta-Nehisi Coates? No one.

Also found in his thread is a comment on how under-the-radar-racist military service is.

For much more, read this Te-Nehisi Coates' Kelly takedown in Salon.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

John Kelly Shows his True Color(s), and They're White, White, and White

The Civil War could have been averted by compromise? John Kelly could have avoided looking like a racist an idiot if he had only remembered history.

Adult in the room? How about just another asshole in the room.

John Kelly went to the podium in the White House press room a couple of weeks ago to defend Donald Trump. How'd that work out?

Now he goes on Fox News to show what a level-headed gentleman he is, and blows up history and sounds like a white version of a white supremacist waving a white, white, and white flag. Plus, he sounded ignorant.
If, by appearing on Laura Ingraham’s show on Monday night, John F. Kelly was trying to do damage control after the indictments of Trump associates earlier in the day, it did not work.

Instead, Mr. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, resurrected the debate over Confederate monuments — previously fueled by his boss, President Trump, over the summer — and the Confederacy itself. He called Robert E. Lee “an honorable man who gave up his country to fight for his state,” said that “men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand,” and argued that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.”
Yep. Kelly forgot the Missouri Compromise, a few other compromises, and the biggie, the Three-Fifths Compromise in the Constitution.

Trump gathers them up, doesn't he?

Friday, October 27, 2017

What Races Really Come Down to These Days (Race)

In Virginia, the Republicans are going all-in on saving Confederate statues. And, of course, this is not about race. A recent poll shows different.

Greg Sargent of the WaPo flags a new poll showing Democrat Ralph Northam holding his own despite the all-in conservative push to make the Virginia governorship race all about race.

In recent days, Republican candidate has been running ads condemning Northam for being, essentially, anti-Confederacy. Wonder what that's all about. Er, hem.

In the graphic up above -- the only copy of the Wason Center poll I could find, courtesy Sargent's Twitter feed -- note the line "Gillespie leads among white voters." Also note that "Northam leads among men and women, young and old, and among African-American voters."

To say "it's come to this" ignores the last 50 years, since Nixon's Southern Strategy. But face it, in this Trump-Bannon era, we need to take a really long look at our racist past-present-future and, perhaps, weep.

This is our America.

Update. The WaPo editorial board weighs in on the toxicity of Ed Gillespie's approach.

Donald Trump: Just Say No to Opioids. (Sound Familiar?)

Echoes of Nancy Reagan abound in Trump's opioid speech. What's he really saying? Just Say No to spending any money fighting opioids. Translation? Let them eat opioids.

We don't need to show you no stinkin' money!

No one should be surprised that Donald Trump -- again! -- says something large and does something small. He appointed a commission on the opioid crisis, said he's declare a national emergency and then in the middle of a big push for huge tax cuts for him and his cronies decided, "Wait, we can's spend money on these losers! It'll ruin our tax cuts!"

So he let Mick Mulvaney and his no-money-for-the-needy-or-sick crowd prevail. Instead of declaring a "national emergency,"  which would free up serious spending, Trump declared a "public health emergency, which frees up $57,000, which is what's left in the public health emergency fund. Want more? Let my Republican Congress add money to the fund. Will they? Er, what do you think?

ABC's report sums it up nicely (or maybe deadly):
Trump's declaration, which will be effective for 90 days and can be renewed, will allow the government to redirect resources in various ways and to expand access to medical services in rural areas. But it won't bring new dollars to fight a scourge that kills nearly 100 people a day.
"As Americans we cannot allow this to continue," Trump said in a speech at the White House, where he bemoaned an epidemic he said had spared no segment of society, affecting rural areas and cities, rich and poor and both the elderly and newborns.
"It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction," he said. "We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic."
But of course we won't because this is just optics. Real help would be real help. Let 'em eat opioids, fucking losers.

To understand that I'm not just blowing off steam at a typical conservative reaction -- inaction -- to a societal problem, look at this from a fascinating new study of the political typography of America by the Pew Center:
Government can't afford to do more to help needy Americans
  • Core Conservatives 83%, Country First Conservatives 70%
Blacks who can't get ahead are responsible for their own condition
  •  Core Conservatives 80%, Country First Conservatives 76%
Approve of Donald Trump
  • Core Conservatives 93%, Country First Conservatives 84%
(Note. Unlike the crack cocaine crisis, which was predominantly a black problem, today's opioid crisis is predominantly a white problem. Oddly, that doesn't change the conservative reaction to it.)

Now, are you surprised at Trump's weak response to a problem of addiction? To get a look at where this attitude comes from, look at this study of models that explain addiction and responsibility:
  • Who is responsible for creating a problem?
  • Moreover, who is responsible for solving it?
These two questions yield four possibilities with respect to responsibility for personal problems:
  • The Moral Model: People are responsible for creating and solving their own problems.
  • The Medical Model: People are not responsible for creating or solving their own problems.
  • The Enlightenment Model: People are responsible for creating, but not solving, their own problems.
  • The Compensatory Model: People are responsible for solving, but not creating, their own problems.
Read the whole page to see these models further explained.

The bottom line? We should not be surprised to find out:
  • Donald Trump decides not to spend much time and money, despite the conclusions of his own commission,
  • because he is actually a true conservative,
  • and believes it's addict's own fault. 
  • 90 days from now, when the policy is to be reviewed? Won't happen and people won't notice.
  • Sad!
Remember, folks, you can Just Say No!

Monday, October 23, 2017

My New Subaru Has Lots of Driverless Features. My Wife Hates That.

I bought a VW diesel in 2010. They cheated on the smog device, so they're more or less buying me (most of ) a new car. So I went with Subaru because of its safety features. Now my wife has panic attacks whenever she rides with me. Go figure.

Okay, this is not my Subaru, but is it the future?

I moved to Portland recently, and with a check from Volkswagen for cheating on the smog device in my Jetta -- along with Oregon's being the second-cheapest state for taxes and doc fees on a new car -- I decided to go for the safety and all-wheel-drive of a Subaru because I could, and Portland does have the occasional snowfall and/or ice storm.

Great. Or so I thought.

I don't want to dwell on my wife's anxiety about all the bells and whistles that I (mistakenly?) was all aflutter about, so I won't. I hope she gets over it when she realizes that, no, I won't get cocky, crank up all the fancy near-driverless features on the Crosstrek and run us into a ditch or a school bus.

But she's not the only one who's nervous. So I was very entertained by this David Leonhardt article in the NYTimes. He tangled with a newfangled Volvo. Read his report. It's illuminating. He gets it about right.

Apple's Near-Invisible Attack on Google and Facebook

I hadn't even heard of this, but Apple has found a way to disrupt Google -- and likely Facebook's -- data stream and is endeavoring to do so. Why? Apple doesn't give a crap about ad revenue, but its competitors do. Steve Jobs 2.0 is a bitch.

Apple and Google are in a battle for the world! Should we care?

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo cares a lot about ad revenue models. He's got a premium publishing service that has a delicate balance between subscription revenue and ad revenue. Which way the world goes means a tremendous amount to him.

That's why he caught on to the new Apple move to disrupt the use of cookies on its web browser Safari.

In short, Apple's revenue stream is hardware and proprietary subscription content. Google's revenue stream is advertising and ad data revenue. Apple's main avenue is its tremendous market share of cell phones. Google main avenue is the world wide web, but by providing the second most popular cell phone operating system, Android, for free, it's battling there, too, but, again, to guarantee its ad revenue stream.

Josh does a good job explaining this new battle and its ramifications. There is way more going on in the online world, and this beneath-the-radar competition could rock it.

Check this out. It's big. Oh, and while I was Googling around for info on this, I found this other tidbit that illustrates the behind-the-scenes mini-battle between Apple and Facebook. It's a tiny little illustration of the same machinations.

Support Trump? You Believe Him. Don't Support Trump? You Don't Believe Him.

Correlation is difficult to prove without digging. But if 36 percent of the people approve of Donald Trump, and about the same believe him more than the media, there's a pretty good chance it correlated.

 He may watch Fox & Friends to feel good about himself,
but he knows he's madly, deeply, unloved and untrusted.

The conundrum about why Donald Trump is president is easily solved when you accept that, yes, there was well-directed connivance by a disciplined group of Russian trolls with an advertising budget who helped him win key states. It's why he lost the national vote by 3 million and nonetheless sits in the Oval Office.

Yet it remains a mystery how a consistent 36 percent of Americans approve of his job in that Oval Office, even given the brief time he spends there.

Even more mysterious is how about the same percent believe him more than the media. Here's a semi-random tweet that sums that mystery up nicely:

Truth is Trump's rubber ball: It's always bouncing away from him. If he accidentally catches it, he tosses it away like a live grenade.

But the same number of people who believe the media more than Donald Trump -- roughly 54 to 60 percent -- also appear to disapprove of him, so that's a relief.

I did come across an article on Vice entitled "I Watched 15 Hours of 'Fox & Friends' and I Want to Die" that may explain how 30-something percent believe Donald Trump. Sample:
Our host for the 4 AM hour is Heather Childers, one of FOX News's many innumerable blond female anchors, who has mastered the art of providing just enough facts to piss people off. We don't learn what Trump's immigration plan is, only that he has one. We learn that Vice President Mike Pence protested—or un-protested or reverse-protested—an Indianapolis Colts game, but we don't hear why, just that Pence loves the flag, and black football players don't. Heather tells us about a Texas high schooler (a black girl given a free education!) who was expelled because she wouldn't stand for the pledge. "Did she get what she deserved?" Heather asks.
It's one of the more fun posts I've read in a while, even though the author makes clear how much he wants to vomit (and more!). Read it! It won't make you forget Donald Trump is president (gulp), but it will help you understand why.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

John Kelly Was Always a Hard-Right Jerk. Why Are We Surprised?

General John Kelly (retired) has been saying nauseating authoritarian things for a long time. He's also in the Trump administration. It's required of the Trump team that you protect and defend Donald Trump. John Kelly could do so because he's well-schooled in Trump assholery.

No, General Kelly, the military works for us, not for your precious little clique.

John Kelly is quotable, but not for the right reasons. Here are samples from The Intercept:
“If anyone thinks you can somehow thank [members of the military] for their service and not support the cause for which they fight — America’s survival — then they are lying to themselves and rationalizing away something in their lives, but, more importantly, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to the nation.”
Go to war for the wrong reasons? Find out that misinformation led the drumbeat for war? Just plain against war as a tool of diplomacy or for any other reason? According to John Kelly you are "mocking [our warrior's] commitment to the nation." What if you're supporting the troops by recommending that we not go to war for imbecilic reasons? Kelly said this of the troops, in 2010, after nine years in Afghanistan and Iraq:
 “America’s civilian and military protectors both here at home and overseas have for nearly nine years fought this enemy to a standstill and have never for a second wondered why. America’s warriors have never lost faith in their mission, or doubted the correctness of their cause.”
Remember, these were two wars the U.S. essentially lost, and no veterans said WTF? At the conclusion of the Iraq conflict we virtually handed power to the Iran-favoring Shia on the one hand and on the other inspired the disenfranchised Sunni to turn to ISIS. And, yes, the jury's still out on Afghanistan, but what rational observer, inside or outside the military, hasn't come to the conclusion that war is, by definition and historical perspective, substantially unwinnable there? Hey Kel, you yourself characterize us, the greatest fighting force in the history of mankind, as having only "fought this enemy to a standstill." You think our troops are standing around high-five-ing  each other and shouting "Motherfucking Semper Fi, dude!"

No, our troops are hoping they get home from an impossible conflict with both their legs intact. If not, they're Kool-aid drinkers of the highest order.

Read the whole Intercept article, and for extra measure read this, and this by Ryan Lizza:
No, it is not [referring to Sarah Huckabee Sanders' claim that it's "highly inappropriate" to debate a four-star general]. Kelly is the chief of staff and a political operative. He held a press conference and told a lie that smeared one of Trump’s political opponents. No government official’s military background, no matter how honorable, makes him immune to criticism, especially given the subject at hand. Sanders’s response was unnerving. But the bigger lesson of the episode is that no matter how good one’s intentions are, when you go to work for Trump, you will end up paying for it with your reputation. For Kelly, not even his four stars prevented that.
Four-star General John Kelly is just another of Trump's tools, it turns out. Clean as a whistle for while, at least in the eyes of those who didn't know you very well, and, regardless of your past, you're another victim of Trump's reputation-destroying machine. It couldn't happen to a nicer moralizing bastard elite macho snob.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Heart of the John Kelly Farce: He Disrespected Federica Wilson While Decrying that We No Longer Hold Women "Sacred." What?

During John Kelly's moments at the podium attempting to mitigate Trump's self-damage, Kelly spoke of the loss of civility, citing as one example how women are no longer treated as "sacred," or treated with "honor." Then the only woman that he spoke about was Frederica Wilson, whom he vilified, attacked, and called an "empty barrel." Way to treat women, General!

He came, he spoke, he fucked up big time.

Chief of Staff John Kelly would have preferred to stay out of it, but several things dragged him in. One, he coached Donald Trump on how to offer condolences to families of the fallen. Two, he hung around and listened in on what Trump said in his phone call to the widow of Sargent La David Johnson. Three, he felt obliged to defend the president after Rep. Frederica Wilson attacked Trump for making matters worse with his phone call.

Those three things on their face might have passed. But he did two other things that are connected and contrary to one another. Kelly gave his version of a Make America Great Again pep talk decrying how we no longer treat women as "sacred" to be treated with the upmost "honor," and throwing in remarks about religion and Gold-Star families. And he also attacked Rep. Wilson for being in the car when the Trump phone call came and was put on the speakerphone so that all could hear. Kelly pointedly said he was "stunned." He ignored that Wilson and the family go way back and that she had personally mentored the dead soldier through a program she initiated.

Kelly went on to denigrate Wilson for bragging about funding for a new F.B.I. building in Florida. She did no such thing, as it happens, with a video of her speech coming out supporting her version.

But the damage was done. Kelly says that women are "sacred" and should be treated with "honor." Given a chance a few minutes later, he viciously -- with falsehoods it turns out -- attacks and disrespects a black woman, calling her an "empty barrel that makes the most noise."

Kelly has disgraced himself but good and revealed to the world that he's an elite snob and a moralizing bastard of the highest order. Kudos, General!

An apology is in order, but don't hold your breath.

The Trump and Kelly Show Has Really Low Ratings but Lots of Viewers!

Nothing about this story is hilarious. It's like an unfunny Amos and Andy but about white people. What I want to know is how did Trump take a chance to act presidential (hint: quietly and in a dignified manner graciously offer sympathy to a fallen soldier's wife) and turn it into a total shit show? THEN, have your hitherto respected military man take to the podium and trash his stature by re-emerging as the Boston racist he's always been.

Kelly, Kelly! You were my cover! Now what I'll do??

You could always tweet some nonsense to distract everyone from your continuously failing presidency. Oh, already done that, you say?

Parsing this tweet, you get a quinfecta.
  1. Call the accurately reporting media Fake News.
  2. Impune the dignity of a black congresswoman by calling her "wacky."
  3. Falsely claiming she was listening SECRETLY in on your phone call to a grieving family.
  4. Accuse her lying about the content...
  5. ...when she was essentially accurate (as proven by your Chief of Staff!).
All in less than 140 characters. A Twitter Ninja!

Only problem is you and now your four-star general who was supposed to be the adult in the room went and -- with your "wacky" and John Kelly's "empty barrel" -- implied a black woman was  "uppity."

The simple solution to this is for both of them to apologize for the "poor choice of words" and reiterate their deep sympathy for the fallen. Chance a narcissist and an elite snob are going to do that?


Trump Not Only Hadn't Called Families of Fallen Soldiers, He Didn't Even Have a List.

As George Takei might say, oh myyyy. But this is Trump's classic move: Make an absurd claim, try and fail to back it up, do something inexplicably bad, then doubledown trying to explain that. Then double-doubledown by saying he didn't say, didn't do, it's fake news. Boom! A week's worth of news cycles spent trying to undo the damage. Rinse and repeat.

I keep crapping myself. Gotta stop doing that.

I know. There are roughly 36 percent of Americans who like this guy. All of us also know he does a lot of this stuff to divert our attention from the last dumbass thing he said or did. So he keeps saying random things off the top of his head, pulled out of thin air (the thinnest air). His base, so far, has stayed with him. It amazes me, but then 28 percent of George W. Bush's fans never deserted him, and his time in office has been widely, brutally panned. Oh well.

Trump does this kind of horrific nonsense so often it appears to be a strategy he's adopted on purpose, thinking "hey this is working, why stop?" We could give him some reasons.

But this seriously stinks:
In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.
It would be comical if it weren't wrapped in tragedy. Of course the kicker is Trump's aides reach out to the Pentagon but pronto to get an up-to-date list of the fallen, which they didn't even have.

The beat goes on.

John Kelly Weighs In, and He's Contemptuous and Contemptible.

Josh Marshall over at TPM reminds us that Trump is poison and those around him get poisoned. To paraphrase Roger Stone, it's Kelly's turn in the barrel.

A "stunned" General Kelly: I get to weigh in on Trump's phone call,
but the family's Congresswoman (and family friend) can't.

As I’ve written several times in recent days, Trump is poison. I don’t have a clear enough read yet to have a settled opinion of just what he was thinking when he did this. But Kelly shamed himself with this attack. It was ugly and at least far afield of the fact, intentionally or not. Through it all, whatever President Trump was trying to accomplish in that call, whoever coached him, it seems clear that he deeply upset Johnson’s widow and family. Certainly this is a relevant fact Kelly could have taken some note of, even if it was all with the best of intentions on the President’s part. He didn’t. He ignored all that Trump has done over the course of the week. And at the end of the day that is because Trump is poison. Everyone around him gets damaged. Because he is poison they damage themselves.
Marshall was highlighting what John Kelly got wrong about Congresswoman Wilson. He attacked her viciously -- calling her an "empty barrel" -- using falsehoods or, at the very least, the least likely and charitable view of events, events that James Comey had praised Wilson for.

But this is the first time that I saw John Kelly step in the bullshit that litters Donald Trump's path. Kelly was contemptuous of Wilson -- for all the wrong reasons -- and thus his action in turn became contemptible. What's more, during his appearance, Kelly actually proved what the congresswoman, La David Johnson's mother, and his widow had said about Trump's comments to be true. Why? Because Kelly admitted putting those very words in his mouth when he counseled Trump on what to say in his phone call, telling Trump that he had been told on his son's death that he died doing "what he had signed up for."

Then, it turns out Kelly was listening in when Trump made his phone call. What? He can listen and -- at the press-room podium -- recount what he had told Trump to say, but the grieving family's congresswoman can't remark on the family's horrified response? What a contemptible, moralizing bastard.

Now, John Kelly joins the list of poisoned people. I have no sympathy for him. He was born and bred to be an elite snob. He's found suitable company.

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, like John Kelly, grew up in Boston and went to the same schools. If a takedown can be eloquent, this one is.